A memorial Mass for Jesuit Father Martin Whealen was celebrated Wednesday, July 25, in the Jesuit Hall Community Chapel on the campus of Saint Louis University. Father Whealen died July 19 in St. Louis. He was 87 years old, a Jesuit for 68 years and a priest for 56 years.
Born April 13, 1931, in St. Louis, Father Whealen entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) Sept. 1, 1949, at St. Stanislaus Seminary in Florissant, following graduation from St. Louis University High School. He was ordained a priest June 12, 1962 at St. Mary’s College in St. Marys, Kan.
After pronouncing first vows studying philosophy at the seminary, he studied at Saint Louis University, graduating with both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in Latin. He studied theology at St. Mary’s College. He also received a master’s in education from SLU.
Father Whealen spent more than three decades teaching in high schools, including 27 at Kapaun High in Wichita, Kan. Following ordination and a year of teaching at St. Stanislaus in Florissant, he began teaching at Kapaun in 1965. When the Jesuits turned over the school to the diocese, he and two other Jesuits remained at the re-named Kapaun-Mount Carmel (1971-89). He taught theology for many years and was known for his strong convictions and clear expectations. His care for students and sense of humor made him a valuable part of the faculty. He was a hard worker, carrying a full schedule of classes while also being almost a full-time assistant pastor at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, where he lived whiles at Kapaun-Mount Carmel.
During his years in Wichita, Father Whealen learned how to fly the small planes manufactured there by several companies. His competence as a pilot commanded enough respect for him to be asked to deliver new planes from the factory to their purchasers. Occasionally, these missions took him as far as Europe. He also gave flying lessons.
After Wichita, he taught for two years at St. Teresa’s High School in Decatur, Ill. He then did pastoral work in Denver and Wichita, before returning to teaching for three years at De Smet Jesuit High School in St. Louis (1996-99). He then worked in pastoral ministry in Denver for eleven years (1999-2010), first at St. Thomas More Parish and then at Xavier Jesuit Center. He viewed pastoral ministry as a continuation of his work as an educator, now teaching the “person in the pew.” In 2010, he was missioned to the Fusz Pavilion in St. Louis, joining its ministry of praying for the Church and the Society.
He is survived by a sister, Mary Lou Sammelman.